Bill Regulating Wind Turbines Breezes Through House
Rep. Vickie Nardello’s bill to regulate the siting of wind turbines in Connecticut passed the House of Representatives Tuesday with overwhelming support.
The measure, which passed 132 to 6, requires the Connecticut Siting Council, in conjunction with the departments of Public Utility Control and Environmental Protection, to make sure applicants satisfy the requirements in the regulations.
Regulations will consider set backs such as tower height and distance from neighboring properties, impact on natural resources, and will require developers to decommission wind turbines at the end of its useful life, flicker effect, and blade shear.
Specific requirements for wind farms are to be determined by the size of each project.
Nardello said she was hopeful the regulations will be written in the next 9 to 12 months, versus the 18 months previously projected.
“There are pressures on the Siting Council to establish regulations in a timely manner,” said Nardello. “I will personally look to put in regulations as soon as possible.”
BNE Energy Inc. proposed a project to build two wind turbines in Prospect, Nardello’s hometown, and six turbines in Colebrook – the projects were given $1 million in unsecured grants from the Clean Energy Fund for development.
Earlier this month the Connecticut Siting Council rejected a proposal to construct two wind turbines in Prospect, Nardello’s hometown.
The council’s decision was made in light of the concentration of homes in the town and the turbines’ 492-foot height – a turbine that reaches the height of 500 feet is equivalent to a 49-story building.
Nardello supported the Siting Council’s decision and said the state needed to develop regulations prior to the construction of the first wind turbine in the state.
A straw poll conducted by the Council on Tuesday to determine the fate of the project in Colebrook resulted in a 6 to 1 non-binding vote in favor of the petition for three wind turbines off Flagg Hill Road.
BNE Energy proposed six wind turbines in two different locations in Colebrook, requiring two separate petitions in order to be approved by the council.
Gregory Zupkus, president and CEO of BNE Energy said today’s vote is a step in the right direction. He said his company has taken all the necessary steps to make sure there’s little impact on the surrounding area.
“We’ve always made it clear we have no problem with wind regulations,” Zupkus said Tuesday.
If all six turbines in Colebrook are approved they will generate four times the town’s demand. And they will become the first wind turbines in the state of Connecticut.
Joel Rinebold, director of the energy initiative for the CT Center for Advanced Technology Inc., said said the straw poll taken by the Siting Council confirms Connecticut is open for business and won’t be the only state without wind resources in the country. He said the wind farm will bring economic value, environmental performance and renewable energy production. He said they’re encouraged the Siting Council will approve a final decision.
If the project is approved it will be Connecticut’s first wind farm. The final vote is scheduled for June 2.
Rep. Leonard Greene, R-Seymour, believes the Siting Council regulations are already enough to approve the construction of wind turbines.
The addition of regulations to the already established requirements by the Siting Council adds another layer to the process of obtaining approval for the construction of wind farms.
Nardello said the bill has no effect on regulations for other renewable energy sources that she is aware of.
Rep. Sean Williams, R-Watertown, said he’s talked to other representatives across the board who all favor renewable energy yet they also say “I wouldn’t want to wake up and look at that every day.”
The comment was a criticism of Nardello, who supports renewable energy, but introduced this legislation initially titled “An Act Concerning A Moratorium On Wind” after the wind farm was proposed in her hometown.
In the end, Williams voted in favor of the legislation.
The bill now heads to Senate.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.